Beacon is a non-party platform to further the cause of socialism in Liverpool and the wider City Region.

No Cuts Liverpool
Prior to its recent Budget meeting on 3rd March, Liverpool City Council has undertaken a public consultation into its 2021/22 budget, providing the people of Liverpool with the opportunity to feed into the debate on where £15.4million worth of cuts in council spending should be. These cuts will bring the total cut from the council’s budget since 2010 up to a massive £450million.

This £450million cut equates to around 65% of the city council’s 2010 budget, or £800 per household. In addition to the decimation of services, these cuts have led to 2500 council jobs being lost.

While austerity has driven widespread cuts in council funds across the country, the impact upon Liverpool has been disproportionate, with Liverpool Express (01/10/2019) reporting:

Had Liverpool’s Spending Power been cut by “only” the average 12.3% then it would be £77 million better off in 2019/20.

In response to this dire situation, Liverpool’s Labour council presented a menu of cuts for the people of the city to appraise and comment upon:


It is clear from this process that the Labour Party in Liverpool has retreated from the stated position of the former Mayor following last year’s round of cutbacks. Then, Mayor Anderson condemned the punitive nature of the government’s financial attack on Liverpool and pledged to fight further cuts, he told the ECHO:

I will refuse to make any further cuts to our budget because we are now at the stage where doing so will mean closing down vital services that people rely on.” (Liverpool Echo, 31/01/2020)

Joe Anderson is neither a Marxist, nor a Militant. Far from it. He is a mainstream Labour Party figure of many years standing and Beacon would certainly have no illusions in his, or the Liverpool Labour councillors’, preparedness to actually lead the city into a confrontation with the government.

Now, with Joe Anderson departed from the municipal scene, it appears certain that the city’s ruling Labour Group will not stand by their former Mayor’s challenge to the Tory government, Mayor Anderson said:

“I realise this will put us on a collision course with government but we will have no choice – we will not shut down the services that this city needs.

“If the government want to impose this they will have to come here and try and do it themselves – but they will have a hell of a fight on their hands.” (Liverpool Echo, 31/01/2020)

Aside from the prospect of further devastating cutbacks, the city of Liverpool faces massive and multifaceted challenges.

In addition to negotiating an eventual exit from the coronavirus crisis, and the huge economic impact this will have upon an economy that is overly reliant upon the visitor economy, events and hospitality, Liverpool already experiences embedded multiple deprivation, a housing crisis, low levels of educational attainment, a social care crisis and a prevalence of low paid precarious employment.

It is economically illiterate to claim that we can cut our way out of this situation, or that there is a way of inflicting these cuts that has a neutral impact. Reducing aggregate demand in a city region economy that already lags behind will only lead to further economic decline, plus attendant social problems that will be further exacerbated by council services not being available due to cuts.

Put simply, the proposed cutbacks in the council budget will accelerate an already downward spiral. This trajectory also exerts a downward pull beyond the city boundaries.

The entire Liverpool City Region suffers from a shortfall in the aggregate demand needed to sustain the types of businesses, public services and well-paid jobs that we need.

Further austerity forced upon Liverpool, the driving force of the city region economy, will inevitably inflict further damage on neighbouring boroughs (and throughout the Liverpool “travel to work” area) over and above that caused by their own cutbacks.

Liverpool Trades Union Council (LTUC) has put forward a legal “No Cuts” budget proposal. LTUC sets out a plan that complies with advice from the Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy (CIPFA), as well as the council’s own guidance that “controllable earmarked” reserves “may also be used on a short-term temporary basis for other purposes” – like balancing an annual budget – “provided the funding is replaced in future years.”

This strategy is obviously predicated upon the council using the year ahead to build a campaign to secure the resources to restore the reserves used in cancelling the proposed cuts.

Such a campaign would require the council to both engage with and mobilise trade unions and the wider community in the city.Undoubtedly, developing the sort of social movement that is lacking in top-down factional party politics would require a paradigm shift in a city that struggles to shake off the historic weight of boss politics.

Nevertheless, this LTUC proposal has garnered support from a small group of six Labour Councillors, who have written to the interim Mayor, Wendy Simon, stating:

“A year ago, Joe Anderson announced that he would be making no more cuts, and whilst Joe has stepped back as Mayor, the question remains, when is this going to end? This question needs an answer, and soon, whilst we also believe it is imperative that a high profile and very public campaign is launched with the other core cities and councils from across the country to repeatedly highlight how the Tories are undermining local authorities’ ability to provide basic services. We are also attaching a report from Liverpool TUC which we believe outlines a workable strategy for addressing the cuts whilst still setting a legal budget.”

Socialists in Liverpool will watch with interest to see whether the various factions embroiled in Labour’s mayoral election woes will be as vocal in fighting the next round of cuts as they have been in fighting for the right to choose who may make them.  Labour candidates for the council elections in May should be refusing to sanction another penny in cuts to a city already cut, not to the bone but into the marrow.

The case is compelling, we have massive issues to overcome and we cannot contemplate a progressive programme of recovery even on present resources, let alone in the context of further cuts.

That said, this is not just on the shoulders of councillors. A simple vote in the Town Hall will not change a thing. The government, once again, needs to see this city united behind a demand for the return of resources that are rightfully ours.

If a ludicrously inadequate Track and Trace service can be allocated £22billion, contributing to Serco recording profits of £160m, then Liverpool can surely demand a no cuts budget, retaining £15.4million, as we attempt to recover from the current crisis.

A starting point would be for councillors to suspend the closure of One Stop Shops, the inflation busting 4.99% hike in council tax, the pay freeze, and the £15m in cutbacks it has rubber stamped. Instead, taking the case for no cuts out into the community.

Working with public sector trade unions, community organisations and socially trading organisations, such a campaign would set out what a no cuts budget means for the city, what the return of previous funds taken by the government would mean and what we need to do to mount an effective drive to get back more of what has been unjustly stripped from the city’s coffers.

This city has a proud record of not lying down and accepting what Tory governments have in store for us.  By engaging organised workers in trade unions, our communities and those organisations working on the front line in addressing the poverty and disadvantage in this city, councillors would find themselves standing on the shoulders of giants as we begin the fightback from the devastation wrought by Tory austerity and the Covid-19 pandemic.

The alternative is a Labour council (“A Labour Council”!) continuing to make cuts, managing the Tories’ vindictive agenda against Liverpool, in effect administering an unmanaged decline. This city will fight, our politicians must decide if they are in this with us or standing against us.

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No Cuts Liverpool Prior to its recent Budget meeting on 3rd March, Liverpool City Council has undertaken a public consultation into its 2021/22 budget, providing

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Beacon is a non-party platform to further the cause of socialism in Liverpool and the wider City Region.